Wisconsin News

Onalaska announces 2017 capital-improvement budget

New fire truck, road repairs included

Onalaska announces 2017 capital-improvement budget

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) - The city of Onalaska has announced what it will pursue in its 2017 capital-improvement budget.

City capital-improvement budgets are for large-scale purchases or improvements that require city bonding as its source of funding.

In all, there were $10 million in projects that Onalaska city officials reviewed as possible capital-improvement projects for 2017.

Due to budget restraints, the city will only take on about $3.5 million of them.

But those improvements could mean some big changes for the city.

The Onalaska Fire Department estimates that around 2,000 calls have been made through the years with this 1992 Peterbilt Fire Truck.

"This engine basically ran on all of our calls, because we didn't have a second engine, or a third engine, and our backups were very poor," Assistant Fire Chief Troy Gudie said.

Now 24 years old, the truck needs to be retired.

"The cost to invest in a truck this old, doesn't make sense, either to the taxpayers or to us," Gudie said.

That's why a new, nearly $600,000 fire truck is on the list of capital-improvement projects for 2017.

"They are designing the truck for the needs of the Onalaska Fire Department as we have grown in the past 23, 24 years since we had this truck," Gudie said.

"Having the latest safety upgrades, from even when they are driving to the fire, let alone when they get to the fire, is a very key component for their mission," Onalaska city engineer Jarrod Holter said.

Repairing the city's aging roads is also a key part of the plans for next year.

"Last year we did almost five miles of city streets, which is 5 percent of our city streets. We've been trying to get ahead of the scale, but it's very difficult to keep up with the current funding mechanisms we have," Holter said.

Those funding constraints are why city leaders say the process to narrow the projects down is challenging.

"It's a difficult task," Holter said. "The board of public works spends a couple different months of meetings trying to get it to the point of where they feel like they've made good decisions."

But whatever the city decides, they say its critical to get the funding just right.

"Whether we are funding projects for library, for fire stations, for streets, or urban infrastructure such as water or sanitary sewer, those all affect the daily living of a citizen," Holter said.

The capital-improvement budget still needs to be approved by the city council.

That vote takes place Tuesday evening.

Once approved, the city's finance director will purchase the bonds during the first week in March.

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